Patterico's Pontifications


Mike Huckabee 2008

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 8:19 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Perhaps because I’m a discerning Texan, I agree with the Discerning Texan’s view of Mike Huckabee:

Huckabee Wanted 25K to speak in Churches

The hits just keep on coming from that “man of the cloth”, Mike Huckabee… Funny, though, I always thought that the idea was for preachers to move the people to give money to Churches, not to hit the Churches up for big bucks, just for the “privilege” of having a preacher-turned-politician solicit votes, brandishing his all-too-convenient theology and little else of any value.

Seems to me that this is exactly what the Founders were trying to avoid–but Social Conservatives in Iowa and elsewhere seem to be buying right into it. Never mind that Huckabee’s positions and recent statements indicate that his core beliefs when it comes to governing are light years apart from positions that Social Conservatives have taken for years. I have no problem with a religious man being my President. I think Presidents Bush and Reagan are excellent examples of men of faith who have governed admirably. I just have a problem with this particular man. Because I think he will do and say anything to get power–and in that he is no different than Hillary Clinton.

What a weird turn of events this Huckabee phenomenon has been; let us hope it dies a quick death, a la the Howard Dean “swoon” of 2004.”

I have the feeling Huckabee is nearing his Dean Scream moment.


The New Face(s) of Conflict in Iraq

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 3:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There are many things to worry about in Iraq: Casualties, both American and Iraqi; the economy; insurgencies and threats from neighboring countries; and sectarian conflict. In addition, there is concern by some (including me) that America is overlawyering the Iraq war.

However, at the end of the day, I suspect this Washington Post article comes closest to identifying the real long-term problem Iraq faces: Same-sect disputes and crime. It’s not a perfect analogy but, in some ways, Iraq faces a Middle Eastern version of the Mafia:

“This year’s U.S. military offensive and dramatic shifts in tactics by both Sunni and Shiite groups are redrawing the balance of power across Iraq. With less violence between Sunnis and Shiites, festering struggles within each community may come to define the nature of the conflict.

In the Shiite-dominated south, Sadr’s main Shiite rivals are taking advantage of the surge in U.S. troops, as well as Sadr’s imposition of a freeze on operations by his Mahdi Army militia, to make political gains. “They are all gathering against us,” said Ayad Abu Ali, a wiry, broad-shouldered militia guard who had sent his family into hiding and now hardly leaves the office.

U.S. forces have arrested hundreds of Mahdi Army militia members in Baghdad, creating voids in the leadership. This has emboldened Iraq’s mostly Shiite security forces, loyal to the Supreme Council and other political parties, to reach for power in the south. In cities such as Karbala, Diwaniyah and, most recently, Hilla, scores of Sadr’s followers are routinely being detained.”

Like the Mafia, the roots of these disputes are family-based struggles for money, power and control:

The competition has its origins in the days when the fathers of Hakim and Sadr, both preeminent ayatollahs, fought to lead Iraq’s Shiites. Under Saddam Hussein, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim spent years in exile in Iran. Sadr remained in Iraq, bolstering his street credentials. After the U.S. invasion in 2003, Hakim embraced the Americans, while Sadr went to war against them, launching two major uprisings in Najaf in 2004.

Today, their struggle is multidimensional, playing out along lines of personality, class and ideology. The contest is a street fight over turf, a tug of war over oil revenues and a battle for control of the shrines. Sadr’s militia has targeted Hakim’s party offices and fought his movement’s armed wing, the Badr Organization. Both militias are widely believed to have operated death squads targeting each other and Sunnis.

The fight is also political; both parties control 30 seats in Iraq’s parliament. Last year, Sadr backed Nouri al-Maliki for prime minister, largely to prevent Hakim’s candidate from gaining office. By the end of 2006, the Bush administration and Hakim had grown closer, to counter Sadr’s growing street power.”

The Hakim-backed Supreme Council has been criticized by Shiites for not doing more to provide services and boost the economy. This has created an opening for Sadr and his followers, especially in the South, an opening the US military may be able to exploit:

“The Supreme Council’s links to both Iran and the Americans have eroded popular support. Voted into the government as part of the ruling Shiite alliance in 2005, the movement is also blamed for not improving basic services or boosting the economy. Even members of the Shiite business elite, core Hakim supporters, are grumbling.

“We elected Abdul Aziz al-Hakim because he was one of us,” said Abu Ali, a merchant near the Imam Ali shrine who asked that his nickname be used. “But has his coalition done anything for the people?”

Hakim is battling lung cancer, although he has appeared healthier in recent weeks. His successor remains unknown.

By reaching out to the urban underclasses, the Supreme Council is wooing Sadr’s core constituency. For years, the Sadrists have brought social services to the Shiite masses.

Despite the arrests, Sadr’s close aides say the cleric will maintain the freeze on his militia’s operations. It is in part a pragmatic decision: The U.S. and Iraqi raids have weakened his movement. But Sadr is also trying to exert control over his unruly, decentralized militia, parts of which still commit atrocities. “We are rebuilding the Mahdi Army,” said Salah al-Obaidi, Sadr’s chief spokesman in Najaf. “We want them to be well disciplined, well educated.”

If all goes well, Sadr might extend the freeze, scheduled to end in February, Obaidi added. That could bolster the young cleric’s popularity, especially during the April referendum, if it takes place. U.S. military commanders are now publicly commending Sadr for the freeze.

These are the kinds of problems that law enforcement and lawyers might be very good at handling.


It’s the Fathers, Stupid

Filed under: Crime,General — Jack Dunphy @ 12:28 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

A story in Tuesday’s L.A. Times discussed the growing problem of gang violence in the northwest area of Pasadena, California. A recent victim of that violence was Dion Holloway, 17, who was shot and killed on September 25. According to the Times’s Homicide Blog, Dion’s older brother was himself murdered in Pasadena in 2005.

The news story mentioned it only as a biographical detail, but the key to almost all gang violence can be found in this sentence: “Three men have been arrested in the death of the youth, who had recently become a father and dreamed of playing football for USC and the NFL.”

Holloway lived with a guardian, but she was in the hospital the night he was shot. His mother also lives in northwest Pasadena, but the story made no mention of why Holloway wasn’t living with her. Also unmentioned was Holloway’s father. And no one will ever report on it, but I’ll bet a paycheck that at least two of the three suspects arrested in the murder were themselves abandoned by their fathers, and that they, too, have fathered children they neither love nor support.

When will it end?

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